Disturbing reason former Nickelodeon child star quit Hollywood

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Matthew Underwood, who starred in Zoey 101 on Nickelodeon as a teen, has opened up about an incident that made him decide to quit acting.

The now-33-year-old took to Instagram to share that he was once assaulted by his former agent when he was 19.

The former actor’s revelation comes amid the release of Quiet on Set: The Dark Side of Kids TV, a docuseries examining the toxic behind-the-scenes culture on popular children’s shows.

“When I was 19, I was sexually harassed and then assaulted by my agent at the time, who had spent a decent amount of time building trust with me as a friend and mentor. Again, my trust was betrayed and my self image was crushed,” Underwood wrote. “I reported him to the agency and he has since been fired — although he is still active in the industry. This experience provoked my move away from LA and ending my pursuit of acting.”

Underwood then said that he decided to share his story because “many people have been blowing up my email” and calling him a “pedophile defender” after the release of Quiet on Set, which puts Dan Schneider (who helmed Zoey 101) under fire for alleged abuse.

“I imagine many of my friends in the business are being equally harassed if they aren’t joining in the chorus, so I’m sharing this with hope that some of you can recognise that just because a person doesn’t shout from the rooftops that pedophiles are bad or that people can suck — that does not mean they don’t have their own reasons for staying silent, good reasons, personal reasons,” he continued. “I have extreme empathy for anyone who has been taken advantage of by people they trusted. I hope they are all able to grow to love themselves and have great support from their family and friends in their journey of recovery.”

Speaking about his experience on the show, Underwood wrote: “I never had a bad experience working on set of a Nickelodeon show and I never had a bad experience with Dan. I have nothing to add to the conversation that anyone would care to hear.”

Underwood starred as the character Logan Reese on Zoey 101 from 2005 to 2008. He recently reprised his role in the 2023 film Zoey 102.

About Schneider, Underwood says: “I like to believe people have the capacity to be better humans and Dan appears to recognize that he had been an a**hole in his past. I like to believe he is fully capable of being a creator and coworker everyone can enjoy working with. I have no expectation to work with him again, this is just me wanting good for anyone who wants to be better.”

Underwood also mentions in his post that he was allegedly “groomed and molested” at age 12 by a friend’s father.

He captioned his post with a note making it clear that none of his current agents are the accused.

“To ensure there is no confusion, I want to make it clear that my current agents Lauren Green and Sam Hampton of Modern Artists Entertainment are incredible humans who are sincere, genuine, and smart professionals in this industry,” he wrote.

“They have always listened to my concerns and watched out for my well being. I want to thank Lauren Green for literally having my back since I was 8 years old,” Underwood continued. “The only period of my life that I wasn’t represented by her, was the year and a half I had this s**t experience with this other agent.”

“If it wasn’t for Lauren and Sam, I would never have been on a screen again,” he concluded.

This story originally appeared on Decider and is republished here with permission.